Is This One Website Mistake Costing Your Church?

in Websites / 02 May 2016

Pastor, is your church website drawing new visitors, engaging with your community and helping you serve the Kingdom? If it is, praise God! If not, maybe it’s missing the one key element that most church websites tend to ignore.

This blog post will reveal why so many church websites fail to achieve any goals for their churches. In fact, many pastors end up feeling that their websites are a waste of precious resources. Keep reading to find out what you can do to take your church website from failure to fabulous.

church-websites-mistakesWHAT CHURCHES USUALLY DO 

While building a website, churches usually only consider design and functionality. A few good-looking websites are taken as samples and elements such as the about page, mission statement, contact page, etc., are picked out and put together in a brief. The designer-developer then starts building the website according to this brief. Does this sound familiar to you?

WHAT IS MISSING 

At no stage during this process is “the visitor” taken into consideration. Thus, the website ends up getting made for the people involved in building it, instead of serving the visitors that the church seeks to attract.  

If your website is built around this strategy, it is unlikely that it would meet any goals. Ideally, your church website’s goals should include drawing more visitors to your church, increasing engagement within your congregation, promoting church events and taking your message outside the building walls. Is your website currently meeting any of these goals?

WHY IT GOES WRONG 

Google is one of the primary sources of traffic to any website. Let us imagine Google as a mall where each shop is a website. This search engine decides which shops are to be given prime real estate and which ones are to be put in obscure corners. Google makes this decision solely on what benefits the visitor.

When Google visits your store (website), it will rate the latter based on many factors. Is your store relevant to visitors? Do they come in and leave immediately or stay for a while? What kind of experience do visitors have there? What do they have to say about your store?

Based on your website’s rating, it is either given prime real estate (i.e. a listing on the first search page for your website), medium real estate or the wall-facing corner on the 10th floor!

GETTING IT RIGHT 

This example demonstrates the importance of keeping the visitor in mind when building your website. Everything on your church website needs to be designed and curated for the audience that you are looking to draw. Try and visualise each pixel on the screen as prime real estate for the sole purpose of serving your visitor.

Here are 10 top strategies to help you plan an effective church website:

  1. Form a teamPeople from the target audience group need to be a part of your website building team. Create a target date, set a budget and identify the goals your website wants to achieve. Collate a list of features (elements on your website) and benefits (what these elements must do for visitors) that your church website must have. Do thorough research to zero in on your church website’s look and feel.
  2. Don’t compromise on the builderA very common mistake that most churches make is to hire the cheapest vendors to build their websites. This is because they don’t really value the power of their website. Pastor, will you just copy a sermon from another pastor and deliver it verbatim? Surely not! Your website, too, needs to stand apart. Therefore, choose a designer-developer who understands the vision and goals of your church and website.
  3. Chalk out an audience persona list This is a description of the various people whom you might want to connect with through your website. They could be college students dealing with peer pressure, young married couples searching for a home church or urban working professionals. The key is to find which of these groups need your website the most and build it for them in an engaging way.
  4. Create a strategy – Think of how your website is going to cater for your primary target personas. Figure out what kind of content, style, tone etc., will appeal to them. A 60-year-old pastor will not see the church website like a 15-year old would. Therefore, ask for opinions while building the website and remember to incorporate feedback.
  5. Treat your website as your best witness, not as your bulletin board Most church websites fall into the trap of being informative rather than persuasive. Don’t just treat your website like a dumping ground of information. Rather see how you can engage visitors in conversations that lead them to the door of your church.
  6. Think about design and functionality – While good design and functions are important, they should be built keeping the website users in mind. Make sure that your church website contains these 10 crucial elements.
  7. Integrate, not isolateYour church website should not be a stand-alone tool. It needs to integrate well with your online and offline church communication and media strategy.
  8. Build the websiteIt is imperative that the designer understands the purpose of your website. Don’t just build a page because other websites do it. Think about every single element on each page. Build pages and sections that your target personas would appreciate and avoid anything that they won’t remember.
  9. Keep it up to date Your website needs to be fresh and current in order to attract recurring visitors. Do remember that websites are not a one-time effort, but require constant tweaking and updating to get the best results.
  10. Metrics to measure – Finally, you can only manage what you can measure. How can you know if your website is doing well? By periodically measuring the effectiveness of your church website! Here are seven metrics that you should be measuring on your church website.

Is your church website built for you or your online visitors? We hope that this post has helped you learn something new about making great church websites! What tips do you have for churches that are building their websites today?

Are you aware of the common mistakes that church websites make? We have curated a list of these 50 errors in our FREE e-book – 50 Common Mistakes on Church Websites – exclusively for churches! Avail your copy below.

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